Historical Association of Tobyhanna Township

HATT | PO Box 2084 | Pocono Pines, PA 18350-2084

**The Stoddart Family

One of the first permanent settlers of Tobyhanna Township
As recorded in "The History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania," by Alfred Matthews, 1886.

Contributed by Gene Kerrick
| 2007

The Leonard Stoddart family played a prominent part in the history of the extreme northwest corner of Tobyhanna Township, Monroe County, as the family maintained an important tavern and stage coach stop on the Wilkes-Barre-Easton Turnpike for many years in Stoddartsville.

This family had connections to the Butler family, long prominent in affairs in the Wyoming Valley beginning with the American Revolution. It also was involved with the Stull family that was important in Stoddartsville.

In 1795, two brothers, sons of a shoemaker in Cumberlandshire, England, immigrated to Pennsylvania.

One brother, John, became a successful businessman in Philadelphia and founder of Stoddartsville. John intended to have farmers bring wheat from the Wyoming Valley, process it in a grist mill he built there along the Lehigh River and send it down the river system to the cities of the eastern seaboard. His dream was thwarted because the canal, necessary for the transportation of the flour, was never built upstream from White Haven, downriver a considerable distance from Stoddartsville. Ruins of the gristmill still exist today.

His brother Leonard settled in Monroe County on the southern side of the Lehigh River very early in the 19th century, in what later became Tobyhanna Township. John may have given him a large tract of land, possibly in payment for a debt. This brother built a tavern just beside the Lehigh River and fronting on the Wilkes-Barre and Easton Turnpike. This toll road was built in the early 19th century by a group of Wyoming Valley businessmen under the leadership of Lord Butler, to connect Wilkes-Barre with the city of Easton at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers.

The Leonard Stoddart branch of the family sold off some of its land, but retained the part on which the tavern stood. It remained in family hands until the middle part of the 20th century. When Leonard died, his son Henry assumed ownership with his two maiden sisters. When Henry died, operation of the inn went to their nephew Leonard, who lived in it with his family.

One part of the land the Stoddarts sold became the Kerrick farm. In later years much of the land was used for summer homes, including those of the Butler and Stoddart families. Then, in the last several decades, year-around homes have occupied it.

The village suffered two major blows in fairly quick succession: In 1862 a major flood destroyed many of the buildings and in 1875 a massive forest fire consumed much of what was left. The family soon rebuilt the tavern and the building survives today, though it has not operated as an inn for many years. It is a large two-story frame building with many nooks and crannies.

One news article describing the inn states that it was a great place to water the horses from its natural spring. It lodged farmers who brought their grain to the mill, lumbermen who worked in the thriving timber industry until it died out, and transients who used the turnpike.

One of John Stoddart’s sons, Joseph Marshall, lived six months a year for many years in the country home (which he called Monroe Park) near the inn. He was a successful businessman in the Philadelphia area, but was crippled with a stroke somewhere about age 70. He occupied himself, though partially handicapped, by wood carving. There is a stained glass window dedicated to him at the Blakeslee United Methodist Church.

There were two marriages between the Stoddarts and the Butlers in widely separated generations. There was also a marriage between a Stoddart and a Stull.

Indeed, ownership of the inn descended through this marriage. Lewis Stull was postmaster for 40 years in Buck Township (on the northern side of the Lehigh at Stoddartsville), and was succeeded by one of his daughters.

He bought the Maples. This imposing home was built for Isaac Stoddart, a son of John, and his wife, Lydia Butler, granddaughter of Zebulon Butler, a Revolutionary War hero in the Wyoming Valley. The daughter, who was postmaster, and her sister, in the early part of the 20th century, turned the home into a summer boarding establishment. As with so many of the wooden resorts in the Poconos, it was destroyed by fire in 1951.

It seemed fitting that the Butler family now owns the inn because of its connection to the Stoddarts. The inn can be seen from Route 115 when driving north, by looking left just before crossing the bridge over the Lehigh River.

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